- Published: 2016
- Number of pages: 399 pages
- Format: Epub
- File Size: 0.71 MB
- Authors: Phil Knight
Bill Gates named Shoe Dog one of his five favorite books of 2016 and called it “an amazing tale, a refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. It’s a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey, riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice. Phil Knight opens up in ways few CEOs are willing to do.”
Fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his car in 1963, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In this age of start-ups, Knight’s Nike is the gold standard, and its swoosh is one of the few icons instantly recognized in every corner of the world.
But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always been a mystery. In Shoe Dog, he tells his story at last. At twenty-four, Knight decides that rather than work for a big corporation, he will create something all his own, new, dynamic, different. He details the many risks he encountered, the crushing setbacks, the ruthless competitors and hostile bankers—as well as his many thrilling triumphs. Above all, he recalls the relationships that formed the heart and soul of Nike, with his former track coach, the irascible and charismatic Bill Bowerman, and with his first employees, a ragtag group of misfits and savants who quickly became a band of swoosh-crazed brothers.
Together, harnessing the electrifying power of a bold vision and a shared belief in the transformative power of sports, they created a brand—and a culture—that changed everything.
Review “A refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. It’s a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice. Here Knight opens up in a way few CEOs are willing to do. I don’t think Knight sets out to teach the reader anything. Instead, he accomplishes something better. He tells his story as honestly as he can. It’s an amazing tale.”—Bill Gates, one of his favorite books of 2016 “Shoe Dog is a great American story about luck, grit, know-how, and the magic alchemy of a handful of eccentric characters who came together to build Nike. That it happened at all is a miracle, because as I learned from this book, though we are a nation that extols free enterprise, we also excel at thwarting it. This is Phil Knight, one on one, no holds barred. The lessons he imparts about entrepreneurship and the obstacles one faces in trying to create something, are priceless. The pages I folded down are too many to mention.”—Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone “‘The best book I read last year. Phil is . . . a gifted storyteller.”—Warren Buffett “I’ve known Phil Knight since I was a kid, but I didn’t really know him until I opened this beautiful, startling, intimate book. And the same goes for Nike. I’ve worn the gear, with pride, but I didn’t realize the remarkable saga of innovation and survival and triumph that stood behind every swoosh. Candid, funny, suspenseful, literary—this is a memoir for people who love sport, but above all it’s a memoir for people who love memoirs.”—Andre Agassi, New York Times bestselling author of Open “Shoe Dog is an extraordinary hero’s journey, an epic tale of faith, unparalleled determination, excellence, failure, triumph, hard-earned wisdom, and love. It’s nothing short of a miracle that Nike exists. I finished the last sentence in complete awe, inspired and grateful for the experience.”—Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice and Inside the O’Briens “A touching, highly entertaining adventure odyssey, with much to teach about innovation and creativity. Phil Knight takes us back to the Big Bang of the swoosh, recalls how he first begged and borrowed from reluctant banks, how he assembled a crew of eccentric but brilliant misfits, how they all worked together to build something unique and paradigm-changing. An inspiration for everyone with an unconventional dream.”—Michael Spence, Nobel-prize winning economist “A fresh historical perspective on one of the most profiled companies in the world…[Shoe Dog] builds characters of the people behind the brand.”–ESPN.com “Loaded with hard-earned wisdom…Want a simple recommendation? Go get a copy.”—Portland Business Journal Review “Shoe Dog is, at its heart, an origin story, of both a global brand and a footwear lifer…it reads like pure adventure story, boys facing steeper and steeper challenges and finding ways through, often by the skin of their teeth. As Knight collects the misfits and oddballs who become the core of his growing company, Shoe Dog is more like The Lord of the Rings than a typical mogul memoir.”—Complex “A rare and revealing look at the notoriously media-shy man behind the swoosh.”—Booklist STARRED review “The best memoir I recall ever reading. As a business biography, it ranks with such recent works as Neal Gabler’s Disney and Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs. But as a personal memoir Shoe Dog reaches a depth of emotional honesty that even the best biographies haven’t touched.”—Rich Karlgaard, Forbes “Ranks among the best business books and autobiographies I’ve ever read.”—Jim Cramer, CNBC-TV “A blueprint not just for success, but for motivation.Shoe Dog illustrates the unlimited amount of hurdles one might run into while trying to reach a major goal. It’s Knight’s account of seeing a vision through against all odds.”—Mic.com “An extraordinary memoir… one of the best stories of entrepreneurship I have ever read.”—Fareed Zakaria “The ultimate entrepreneur’s guide to the top of the mountain. I could not put it down.”—Bill Walton, Wall Street Journal “A fascinating warts-and-all account of the company’s early years, a rascally tale of scrappiness and survival, a great read . . . Knight provides plenty of entertaining reading and laugh-out-loud moments.”—Motley Fool
Reviews from Amazon users, collected at the time the book is getting published on UniedVRG. It can be related to shiping or paper quality instead of the book content:
⭐ Most business memoirs are self-serving, boring, and poorly written. To put it bluntly, they are “crap between covers.” There are very few business memoirs that are even good, since most of them make the person writing the memoir seem like a business savant who always knew the right answers and knew things would come out right. Great business memoirs are different. They portray a business situation as it was. Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog: A Memoir by The Creator of Nike is a great business memoir.Let’s cut to the chase. This will be a great read for anybody, but if you’re thinking about starting a business, especially a business that you expect to grow, this book belongs on your must-read list. You’ll learn things that you won’t learn anywhere else and you’ll learn things that you can only learn from a story.You’ll learn about the constant struggle to fund growth. Most of the books about entrepreneurship don’t tell you about that. If you start a business and that business starts to grow, you are funding the process out ahead of your cash flow. The result is that you’re chronically cash poor, even when you’re fabulously profitable, and that is both counterintuitive and very tough to manage.You’ll also learn about the plusses and minuses of going public. There’s a lot here about relationships and values, and staying true to what you think is important. There are lessons about how putting people in the right job makes all the difference. And, there are lessons about balancing being a hero at work with being a parent at home.There are also important lessons about not taking yourself too seriously. Knight describes the “executive retreats” that Nike would have. They called them “Buttface sessions.” The name came from one of the early employees who said that Nike was the only company their size where you could shout out “Hey, buttface!” and the entire management team would turn around.There’s another important thing, too. If you think that innovation is only something that high-tech companies do, or that it requires coding, read this book. A lot of Nike’s success comes from being an innovator in shoes.Shoe Dog is superbly written, and you’ll enjoy it if you just read it as a story. But if you’re in business, and especially if you’re starting a business and wanting to make it grow, this book should be on your must-read list. Keep it handy, right near Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing about Hard Things.Toward the end of the book, Phil Knight says this:“God, how I wish I could relive the whole thing. Short of that, I’d like to share the experience, the ups and downs, so that some young man or woman, somewhere, going through the same trials and ordeals might be inspired or comforted. Or warned. Some young entrepreneur, maybe, some athlete or painter or novelist, might press on.”I think he achieved his goal. If you want some seasoned advice to help you run and grow your company, or if you just want to read a great business memoir, pick up a copy of Shoe Dog: A Memoir by The Creator of Nike.
⭐ It may seem surprising that a review of a “sports book” would appear on my site, where book reviews are essentially reserved for the domain of politics and economics. But that surprise would stem from a gigantic misunderstanding, for Shoedog is no “sports book.” Rather, it is a virtual economics textbook. And one every business student in America should read. Indeed, it is one a certain White House occupant should read as well.For those interested in sports, as I am, history, as I am, and business, as I am, this book was a tremendous synthesis of the three, in the particular context of describing the birth of one of the greatest brands in American history – indeed, in world history … I doubt the story of a company’s founding and rise to greatness has ever ended a couple decades before the company’s peak, but that is the genius of Shoedog. Nike founder, Phil Knight, begins the story of this iconic brand at the most embryonic of stages, and ends the story in 1980, at their public offering, despite two and a half decades of utter domination that commenced subsequently. The story of Nike to us mere mortals is Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant, and “Just Do It.” But as readers of this fine book will discover, the real story of Nike took place in the late 1960’s and throughout the 1970’s, as the formative challenges that make a business took place. And if any company would become rightful heir to “Just Do It” — it was Nike.Nike has employed hundreds of thousands of people over the decades, and has created untold amounts of wealth by giving consumers something they wanted: Initially, a high quality running shoe; eventually, a brand — a belief — an affiliation. But the genius of finding future basketball, track, and golf stars to endorse the brand was a small part of the story of this company’s ascension. The genius that created Nike is the genius of this book: It focused on personnel management, on global cost synergies, on harnessing an international supply chain the likes of which the world had never seen, on overcoming legal adversity, and above all else, managing the challenges of liquidity and capital that nearly any company faces in the early innings of their existence. This is an economics book. It is a tribute to the miracle of free trade which has created more wealth than any other phenomena in the history of civilization. It is a rebuke of the evils of crony capitalism and those rent-seeking piranhas who would attempt to use government alliances to strangle healthy competition.We are living in an era when forces on the right and the left are capitulating to a childish view of globalization — one seeking to make it a bogeyman for anything and everything — and ignoring the absolutely indisputable evidence for the enhancement of quality of life globalization has created. Few companies better illustrate what matching willing buyers and sellers around the world can mean for consumers, for producers, for shareholders, for employees, and for indeed all stakeholders in a given organization than Nike. While countless others do, for it is a universal lesson, Nike is the story of a young man and his track coach creating $100 billion of wealth that has circulated across a vast, vast ecosystem, by understanding the miracles of global trade. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough for one looking for a biographical narrative version of an economics lesson, versus the academic attempts that often prove too dry. The story of Shoedog was anything but dry, and the message of Shoedog is anything but trite.
⭐ I haven’t picked out my next book yet, but I’m prepared to be let down. This one’s going to be hard to beat. Shoe Dog is laugh-out-loud funny; it’s sad; it’s exciting; it’s smart; it’s honest; it’s inspiring. I didn’t want to reach the last page. I closed the book craving more, so I immediately slid into fanatic mode and discovered that a pilgrimage to the Nike campus in Beaverton would take me 39 hours. And there’s not even a tour.So now I’m back to normal, but I still very enthusiastically recommend this book. In the most basic terms, Phil Knight’s story is one of success. It’s no secret that Nike is a giant, but Knight nevertheless creates page-turning suspense at several junctures. He also gives us an intimate look at his personal life, which makes complete sense, because business is personal. For people who truly believe in what they’re doing, it’s impossible to separate the two. Knight’s passion is punctuated by his referring to Nike as his business child and with his proclamation that “if it ever does become just business, that will mean that business is very bad.” He is the most interesting person I never knew I wanted to meet.As I approached the final pages, the critic in me wondered how this story could be complete without mention of the Nike sweat-shop crisis. Was it strategically omitted because it might ruin the warm-fuzzy feeling I have now? The answer is no. Knight includes it in the final section that brings everything up to date, in the “where are they now?” pages. I won’t go into the content, but I will say that warm and fuzzy remain intact. And I have more respect for the company than ever. I am almost embarrassed that I run in Adidas.
⭐ At first, I thought I wouldn’t finish this book. The first twenty-one pages had ink stains from whomever in production put the pages together.Though the ink blotches were a distraction, the writing, the words used and his story is compelling – until about page sixty, when I kept asking myself, “Was he a great businessman at the expense of his marriage, and his children?”Because he addressed this just when I paused to consider if I would finish this book, I kept reading.I was curious about his story, because I remember watching between the 70’s and certainly more recently, many hurtles this company went through. I’m a runner, mostly as a result of having been in the army, and because running at o’dark thirty sets the pace for my day.With Colin Kaepernick taking a knee, and the white army soldier having encouraged him to take that knee, I wondered why Nikie is taking this position. What’s the back story?Throughout this memoir, Mr. Knight and his “Buttface” leadership team, as they call themselves, describe in great detail how they turned the adversity of their individual lives, and the lives of others into “… taking a chance on people.”One example in which Nike took a chance with the underdog was when they had experienced their first law suit. They took a risk with an attorney fresh out of law school, on a contingency basis. This attorney also didn’t look like athletic. He was obese.But when this new attorney read the summary of the case, he described the case as a “holy crusade.”And they won with honesty on their part, with blatant dishonesty on the plaintiff’s part.Nike had come to represent a symbol of rebellion and iconoclasm. The leadership team embrace, among other things how the public loves to watch the athlete put total effort into what he or she is doing, even if the athlete is risking death.Because this memoir is so well written, I actually felt like I was watching a movie, or, even been their, every step of the way.My vocabulary, business ideas, running technique, and awareness of power plays exponentially expanded as I read this memoir.It was interesting to notice the parallels between how he ignored letters from his first employee and the fact that he struggled with feeling respected and approved of by his father.It is also great how he described what it is like to be at the mercy of bankers, competitors, unscrupulous business partners, and being sued – until he and the team got indignant with themselves, and rose to the opportunity.I still have some questions, having read this book:1. Will Mr. Knight write a book about sons feeling like they are growing up in the shadow of their fathers?2. On page 186 of this memoir, it says, “The average person takes seventy-five hundred steps a day, 274 million steps over the course of a life, the equivalent of six times around the globe …” How many miles is this?3. Why did this book share very little about Michael Jordan, until the last few pages?4. Three years have passed since this memoir was published, and since this became something on your bucket list. What’s on your bucket list now?He truly is a “gifted storyteller,” as Warren Buffett describes Phil Knight.
⭐ Knight had me all in by page 2. I love this book, and I also found that I love Phil Knight. I started at the University of Oregon in January of 1972, and was in the same broadcast communications class as Steve Prefontaine, who I came to know only superficially in class, but who was truly the unforgettable person that Knight describes in his book. My introduction to the Men of Oregon was the 1972 Olympic trials in Eugene, watershed year for Bowerman and Nike as well.All that aside, however, Shoe Dog is much more than a book about business and runners. It’s the story of a man who was given a calling, and who knew he had no other choice than to yield to it. Nike is not just a business. It’s an organism that shaped the people who gave birth to it. Knight immerses the reader into the brilliance and eccentricities of that organism without getting gooey or mystical, but lets the organism itself give the reader eyes to see and ears to hear. Each road block to success, though dealt with in surprising and sometimes ingenious ways, also brings surprise and catharsis with each resolution as the story progresses and the organism continues to grow, to reform, and to redefine itself. I laughed out loud at many parts, and I was simply enthralled by others, but I completely fell apart at the end, and wept like a child. I thought at first that the book struck me so profoundly because I lived in Oregon, loved the place like no other, and have strong and sentimental feelings attached to my memories of the time and place, but after reading many of the reviews below, I realize that my feelings were not just the result of having lived there and known some of the people. It’s the life of Phil Knight, the soul of the man, and the wisdom he learned and experienced in the heart of the organism that was, and is, Nike. He displays a poetic transparency that I have never seen in a businessman, a quality that makes of him the unique person who was created to give the world the Nike corporation, and it is indeed a unique company that was given to the world by a thoughtful man, a courageous man, and yes, a very good man indeed.
⭐ I expected it to be a typical corporate tycoon memoir, full of war stories and myth-building. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I enjoy reading about the lives of hard-charging, world-changing entrepreneurs but I always wonder how objective these titans of industry can be about their own lives and creations.But Phil Knight has done something extraordinary with his memoir–he has painted a picture of himself and his company that is human, complicated, hilarious, and poignant. I always pictured Knight as a Steve Jobs-like figure but he is quite the opposite–quiet, reflective, insecure, open about his shortcomings and failures. There is something spiritual and intensely compassionate about the way Phil writes about the experiences and people that drove Nike’s extraordinary rise. At the end this isn’t a book about great strategies or pitched battles (although there are a number of those) but a story about people. Normal, everyday people driven by passion and pain to create something incredible. I couldn’t put this book down. After I finished it, I couldn’t forget it. Five stars all the way.
⭐ The storytelling in Shoe Dog is powerful. I’m not a shoe dog myself, an Oregonian like Phil Knight, or a former track runner. Yet I found myself twisting and turning through all the adventures in this book as the author recounted them. I loved how certain chapters were fast paced, when changes were taking place in Knight’s business or when innovation sparked in the company. Other sections stood still in pause, reflective in times where Nike faced uncertainties, setbacks, adversaries, and near failures. Knight brought together a team that was a force to be reckoned with in their industry, going places people hadn’t gone before. There is also humor in this book, funny moments between very different characters.Normally, I don’t want to read books focused on “business,” where someone drones on about how knowledgeable they are on this subject. Business, money, me me me, blah blah. This book is not that. It’s about living the life you want, and Phil’s shoe addiction. One thing missing from the book for me is Michael Jordan, who’s hardly mentioned despite his huge presence and star factor in Nike history. The chapters stop before they reach him. The only Nike shoe I know by name is the Air Jordan from years back, so it was weird not to learn about how this amazing athlete entered the shoe scene. Overall though, this book is still entertaining.
⭐ Nike is one of the iconic American brands known around the world. It’s up there, if not above, brands like Levi’s, Harley-Davidson, and even Apple. It’s story, especially the early days, was one that should teach lessons to anyone starting or running a company which is why Nike’s founder, Chairman and former CEO Phil Knight wrote the book ‘Shoe Dog’ in the first place.Whether you like Nike or not, you have to respect the business that Knight and a handful of others have been able to build. It’s important to note that this is a book about the early days of Nike. While Knight does touch on some of the athletes and crisis in later years, this book is predominantly about the early days before Nike even existed.Knight is very candid about the existential crisis that he and the rest of the Nike team went through seemingly on a yearly basis. It reads at times as a classic example of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’. Borrowing here to pay someone there. Going from this bank to that bank and at one point even lobbying Oregon senators for help.Knight has several pieces of advice sprinkled throughout the book too. From management (‘Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results’) to entrepreneurship (‘The cowards never started and the weak died along the way’) to life in general (‘Life is growth. Your grow or you die’).It’s ironic that one of the best business books of 2016 is a tale of globalization. The idea of globalization is currently under attack as nationalist views move into the great halls of power in the West.It would be naive to not know the story of Nike though. It’s a story of innovation, perseverance, negotiation, execution and passion. Things that should be taught at every college and high school in the West.It’s a solid read and probably a required one. It’s not often that people of Knight’s level offer up such candid insight into the begins of a global brand. With all that’s going on politically and economically, it’s a story worth knowing.
⭐ It has been quite humbling to trace the origins of the Nike brand through words of the founder himself.Comparing this to other biographies I’ve read, there’s definitely plenty of room for improvement to the author’s writing. At times I found the storytelling quite rushed and disconnected. There was much effort on humor, but many a times I fell short of spotting it out at first read.Narration aside, the book is still a wonderful read. As with most accounts of successful people, the principles and habits remain consistent. In the world where people like to credit single-person -heroics, Phil Knight was able to rightly credit much of Nike’s success to the founding team, his family and friends.It was quite enlightening to read about the founding team. Guys like Bill Bowerman, Phil’s old track coach at Oregon, who was instrumental in some of the first shoe designs. Jeff Johnson, the first full time employee of Nike who actually coined the company’s name. Del Hayes, the overweight, meticulous, numbers guy with a healthy appetite for booze. Bob Woodell who showed one can still do the best work of his life from a wheelchair. Rob Strasser, Nike’s first in-house lawyer who was instrumental in signing Michael Jordan for the Jordan brand.It was also quite humbling to read about people like Bob Woodell’s parents who gave Phil a loan out of their hard-earned life savings because they believed in Nike’s vision which was shared by their son. Also noteworthy is Nissho company who also took a chance on Nike when local banks denied him of credit. From Nissho: Sumeragi, Ito and Masaru Hayami were instrumental in Nike’s success, particularly Hayami who continued advising Phil much later in his life. Steve “Pre” Prefontaine, who inspired the 1970s running boom and the first chief evangelist of Nike’s running shoes.Phil has managed to highlight the biggest reason why Nike has been successful in the global shoe industry: they ensured the shoes business was about the athletes and the people and less to do with the shoes. This spirit stemmed from the core group that founded the company and later passed on to many athletes that they were able to endorse. Negotiations aside, this explains why Nike has been successful to recruit big names such as Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.Phil closes the book on a sombre note, questioning the purpose of everything it took to get there. Weighing out the some of the trade-offs that come with chasing success, particularly losing time on family. But he appears to take solace in seeing the spirit of Nike continuing to live through the staff, and most importantly, the athletes.I recommend this book to upcoming entrepreneurs and others who find inspiration from biographies.Notable quotes:“Business is war without bullets.” – Anonymous“No brilliant idea was ever born in a conference room, but a lot of silly ideas have died there.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald.“Somebody may beat me, but they’re going to have to bleed to do it.” – Steve “Pre” Prefontaine.
⭐ Holy moly, what an insane story. This book is an exhilarating memoir of the adventures of Phil “Buck” Knight, from a backpacker with a crazy idea to eventually building one of the most iconic brands on the planet.With a gripping style of writing the founder of Nike tells it all through all the epiphanies, the lucky encounters, the boardroom battles, courtroom battles, the many ups and down of his own personal story and the people surrounds him, the many times they nearly get out of business, this one promise he made to himself to someday come back to Manila, how they came up with the name Nike, how he accidentally met the designer of the swoosh logo, and all the tragic tragedies that almost shock me into tears, all of which cannot possibly be mentioned here without giving away the great plot of the story.Indeed, the book reads like an epic movie that kept me glued way longer than my usual daily reading miles. I even lost sleep for couple of days as I could not possibly put down the book before bed. And now as I write this review a couple of days later since I finished the book, I actually miss reading it and wondering how the guys are doing right now.Phil Knight runs, he reads a lot of books, he’s a backpacker at heart, a romantic poet of life who often gets his inspirations from the great men of history. And his charisma and worldly charm shines bright in the written pages of the book. What not to like?Easily one of the best biographies I’ve ever read, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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